When I first moved to Denver, I took my wife to see Dark Star Orchestra. For the uninitiated, DSO is a Grateful Dead cover band that covers entire shows at a time. For instance, if they covered Cornell ’77, the setlist they played would be the exact same one as that famous show.
The night we went to go see them they covered 11/21/73, a show that soon after was released as part of the ill-fated Road Trips series. There was a point in the second set, when the band was getting "out there" with their improvisation when my wife turned to me (she’s not a Deadhead, at all) and said, "this sounds like spaghetti.
It’s not a far stretch to take that spaghetti concept and apply college lacrosse this year.
I’ve had some wishy-washy ballots this year, but this one takes that cake. The lack of consistency from some teams makes it really hard to rank them. Right when you think all of the holes have been plugged in the hull, another stream of water blasts you in the back of the head. Typically, I struggle with the back half of the Top 20, but this week I’m not even sold on my top 5.
1. Brown: Bruno was idle this week and that actually helped them. I had them higher than Yale last week, and Princeton took Yale to the wire. No eminent threats, and my preference for offense, puts Brown as number. At least for this week.
2. Yale: Feel free to consider this 1b, but being undefeated at this point in the season is no easy feat. So the Elis squeak by Princeton to remain unblemished. That’s good for #2 this week.
3. Denver: People will call me a homer, but I’ve just seen a lot of Denver ball over the years. I said on the podcast that this Penn State game could be a trap, and after the shellacking of Ohio State I was even more convinced of that. First week of a new term at DU, plus a neutral location, plus a re-invigorated PSU squad spelled trouble for the Pioneers. In the grand scheme of things I don’t think this loss hurts Denver.
4. Notre Dame: I saw that Ohio State got up on ND early. I was not impressed. I flipped on the Denver game and checked the scores and ND had taken the lead. Then when I looked at the final it was a one-goal game. Honestly, I was expecting 5-4 final here. Notre Dame’s offense looks to be it’s weakness right now, and just skidding by an OSU team that collapsed against Denver last week doesn’t do much to impress me. I was all ready to put ND ahead of DU too.
5. Maryland: I really struggled with my #5 pick. I had Villanova here last week and I’m still really high on the Cats. Maryland took down UNC, which I thought was a better win than Nova’s W over Fairfield (even so, I think the Stags are a lot better than their record suggests).
6. Villanova: Like I said, I’m still high on the Wildcats. Undefeated since their OT loss to Harvard to start the season. That’s looking more and more like a fluke as the Crimson spiral out of control and Nova just keeps winning. To paraphrase Dori, "just keep winning… just keep winning…"
7. Towson: The Tigers come in at #7 because they’ve only got one loss and they’re consistent. Towson and Villanova are a bit of a toss-up for me, so offense gets the edge once again. Either one could make it to the final four and I wouldn’t be surprised at this point.
8. Johns Hopkins: I had the Jays a few slots higher, but their OT loss to UVA dropped them down to #8 for me. I still really like this team, even though I wouldn’t call that a "good" loss. The B1G is going to be quite interesting down the stretch.
9. Syracuse: Two straight OT games and two straight losses. What’s going on with the Orange? This team is still lethal, but they need more of a killer instinct on defense if they want to get back to championship weekend.
10. Albany: Connor Fields almost single-handedly mopped the floor with Hartford this week (7g, 1a). The sophomore has 33 points through 7 games. He probably won’t finish with 90+ points again this year, but he’s on pace for another impressive year. The Danes have been pretty consistent this year and that’s enough to get into the top 10 for now.
11. Duke: I think I’m over-rating the Blue Devils here. This team is a total rollercoaster right now. Lose to a SoCon team on a Tuesday and then beat a top 20 team on Saturday. A weird formula to be sure, and also one that makes it almost impossible to gauge where they should be. #11 seems too high to me, but depending on the day they can beat anyone. Of course, the opposite it true as well. I’m going to strop writing about Duke now because thinking about this team is obnoxious.
12. Stony Brook: The way the Seawolves are playing right now it’s totally feasible for them to hit their conference tournament with only two losses. Now that I think about it, that type of consistency should have them ranked higher than Duke–one of many likely errors in judgment on my part in this poll.
13. Air Force: This is a scrappy team and Coach Seremet has done a phenomenal job with this program over the past few years. No one should sleep on the Falcons this year.
14. Navy: The service academy trifecta continues with the Mids at #14. Winning in the Patriot League is difficult and Navy handled a very good Lehigh team (borderline top 20 in my book) this week. We’re starting to see the offense the Mids need to stay in the mix down the stretch.
15. Army: The Black Nights are undefeated in the Patriot League right now, taking down Colgate this week. Navy’s resume is a shade better right now, but these two teams might be the last ones standing in the Patriot League this season.
16. Penn State: The Nittany Lions have been in and out of my rankings all year, and hovering nearby those weeks they didn’t make it in. But they really showed some gumption this week against Denver, taking the defending champs out behind the woodshed.
17. Boston: I still really like the Terriers. They earned wins over Harvard and Lafayette this week. The latter isn’t a big surprise, but the former is a bit more impressive. This upstart team is 8-2, if that’s not worthy of the top 20 at this point I don’t know what it.
18. Loyola: The Hounds are a lot like Duke. I should probably have them next to each other in the back portion of the rankings right now. Issues with consistency have plagued Loyola after their hot start. But Bucknell was on a roll and then Loyola went and just kicked the Bison’s teeth in. Right when you think they’re done they pull you back in…
19. Marquette: I’ve been on the Golden Eagles bandwagon all year. Their resume won’t knock your socks off at this point, but they’ve only got one loss at this point. That’s better than most other teams can say. This also speaks to consistency, which you’ll recall I’m trying to favor this week. They’ve been near the bottom of the poll for a while now. Next week’s tilt against Villanova should be revealing.
20 Hofstra: A couple bounce-back wins gets Hofstra back in the mix, although now that I’m thinking about it, I really should have gone with Penn. At the same time it’s difficult not to give the Llinares/Byrne some love.
Dropped out: North Carolina, Richmond, Harvard, Lehigh
Also considered: Penn, UMass, St. Joseph’s, Richmond, Rutgers, North Carolina, Harvard